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How to Start a Business in Dubai

Dubai’s reputation as a worldwide economic powerhouse is transparent. Its strategic location, outstanding facilities, and wide talent pool make it a desirable location for enterprises seeking to establish a presence in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and specifically the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This guide streamlines the process of starting a business in Dubai by discussing the necessary stages for company incorporation with a solid foundation for success.

Benefits of Starting a Business in Dubai

Below are some benefits to consider when choosing Dubai as your next business destination:

  • Economic hub: Dubai’s strategic location serves as a bridge between Asia, Europe, and Africa, providing access to the global market.
  • Diversified economy: The city has a strong presence in trading, tourism, real estate, banking, and technology.
  • Tax advantages: Free zones provide benefits such as business and personal income tax exemptions, no import or export taxes, and complete foreign ownership.
  • Streamlined setup: A business establishment is made easier using online portals and registration systems for some of the processes. Public and private organisations are available to provide support services.
  • High quality of life: Dubai has exceptional recreational, medical, and educational opportunities, as well as an excellent quality of life.
  • Strong legal framework: Dubai’s legal and regulatory systems adequately safeguard business rights and intellectual property.

Types of Business Setups to Choose From

Freezone: There are numerous advantages to registering a business in the Dubai free zone. These 25+ free zones consist of exemptions from some mainland regulations and corporate taxes. Free zones offer extremely favourable business environments and permit 100% foreign ownership for companies operating in designated areas. These setups are especially advantageous for foreign businesses that are targeting industries, looking for tax breaks, or need a prime location. Dubai’s free zones are important for foreign companies because they provide specialised infrastructure and favourable regulations for a range of industries.

Mainland: Companies based on the UAE’s mainland are allowed to conduct business freely throughout the UAE and lease or own real estate on the mainland. For companies looking to interact directly with the UAE market, this setup is ideal. Mainland businesses are also able to submit bids for government contracts.

Offshore: Establishing an offshore company in Dubai presents a compelling choice for companies looking to prioritise global trade while protecting their assets. These businesses offer a flexible and effective framework for conducting business internationally, making them perfect for operations outside of the UAE.

Steps to Start a Business in Dubai

Starting a business in Dubai is easier than in many other countries, and the experts at Gatestone Group are ready to make the process even simpler for you. Our experts will streamline the opening of your business account and handle all the necessary paperwork and administrative tasks on your behalf, from business registration to tax and legal compliance. Here are the steps to start your business in Dubai:

1. Choose an activity

When setting up a business in the UAE, evaluate the potential business activities available and select the one that fits best with your business’s scope of work from the list of activities provided.

2. Choose a jurisdiction and the legal structure of the business

Three distinct economic zones or jurisdictions make up the UAE market: the mainland, the free zone, and offshore. Every jurisdiction has its own laws and rules about the establishment of businesses and meets various business requirements.

However, the requirements and activity of your business will determine which jurisdiction is best.

This will assist in creating an outline for your business. A business license application cannot proceed until the legal structure of the company is chosen. The following are some of the company structures or legal forms available to register your business in the UAE:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC)
  • Private Joint Stock Company
  • Civil company
  • Branch of a foreign company
  • Branch of a free zone company
  • Holding firm
  • Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC)
  • Free Zone Company (FZ Co.)
  • Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

3. Select the business name and logo

Establishing your company in the UAE starts with the approval of your company’s trade name by the Department of Economic Development (DED). Once approved, both your company name and chosen business activity are authorised. Following this approval, the necessary paperwork is submitted to initiate business establishment in Dubai, after which the UAE trade licence will be issued.

4. Submit a trade licence application

In the UAE, trade licences come in four different varieties:

  • Commercial licence for general trading businesses
  • Professional licence for service-related businesses
  • Industrial licence for manufacturing goods
  • Tourism License for Travel and Tours

5. Select office location

The size of office space leased may impact the visa quotas offered by the DED.

6. Lease office space (physical or virtual)

When establishing your business in Dubai, you may require an Ejari, which is an official tenancy agreement between you and the real estate company that provides your office space or shared workplace. Ejari is necessary for applying for or renewing family member and/or employee visas.

7. File a visa application

It is equally important for the employer to apply for employee visas. There are four simple steps to applying for the visa:

  •   Application for an entry permit
  •   Modification of status
  •   Examination for medical fitness
  •   Registration of Emirates IDs and stamping of visas
  1. Obtain your company licence

After getting your approval from the specific government authority, the company license and documents are issued.

  1. Opening a corporate bank account

Once all necessary paperwork and documentation are complete, opening a bank account for your business is essential to make your business operational.

Documents Required to Establish A Business in Dubai

The following documents would be required for registering a business in Dubai:

  •   Business plan
  •   Passport-size photographs and passport copies and of all shareholders, directors, and general manager
  •   Copies of Emirates IDs of directors, shareholders, and general managers (for UAE residents)


Launching a business in the UAE can be a thrilling adventure, offering access to a dynamic market, supportive infrastructure, and diverse opportunities. Staying informed about regulations and seeking professional guidance when needed can ensure a smooth and successful launch. For a free consultation with our expert team, contact Gatestone Group via email at or call +971 4 450 1023 or +971 52 410 0849.

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